Consumers continue to assume control: Part two

By Kathleen Relias
Vice President and General Manager, Radius-Global Market Research
President Elect, HBA Chicago chapter

Kathleen Relias

We are the midst of transformational changes in healthcare as a result of the Affordable Care Act and convergence of a more transparent marketplace due to the Internet, social media and increased communications tools. The convergence of the Internet, social media and smart phones will allow consumers to further take control of their healthcare.

For healthcare marketers, increased consumer involvement can result in more opportunities or challenges, depending on how quickly they can adapt to the new environment and think out of the box. Creating trust is more important than ever.

Social media, trust and privacy

E-patient engagement will force the healthcare industry to evolve and become an active participant in social media. Healthcare communicators have a completely new way to engage with healthcare professionals and patients directly and through online communities and social media. In turn, companies can then tap into these sources to educate patients and gain invaluable research and marketing insights.

Most importantly, social media offers an extraordinary opportunity to promote public health, improve health delivery and create more productive relationships between patients and physicians. New websites are popping up to jump on the social media bandwagon – such as which allow members to post pictures and allow others to comment on them, or CafeMom, a meeting place for moms.

For consumers, decisions about what to do when a chronic disease is out of control, trying to identify their illness or answer healthcare questions, are often all about trust.

  • Patients go to their trusted sources – which to date have largely been their doctors, spouses and close friends.
  • There are multiple channels scrambling to become the trusted source these days: whether it is a local pharmacy, a quick care clinic, the traditional physician or an online source.
  • There is a difference between a trusted source a consumer may visit to gather information and how they may respond in social media. Some patients have no problem visiting a website to learn about their symptoms, however are reluctant to post or blog about their own personal healthcare issues or needs.
  • Many patients don’t want to post their health issues online for anyone to see – communities are good options for patients who are less reluctant to post to social media.

The challenge for healthcare practitioners and marketers is how to become that trusted source that patients will turn to as they navigate the new healthcare landscape and new forms of information. Companies and marketers are trying to figure this out. Becoming that trusted source will allow an organization to micro target consumers in new ways.

  • The typical segmentation or behavioral approaches can be enhanced and simulate response to marketing approaches.
  • Micro-targeting patients enhances success which will also allow marketers to help direct patients and practice approaches that lead to increased medicine adherence.

The HBA Chicago chapter will continue to be a valuable resource to learn from others in the industry about the changing landscape and social media. By networking with your HBA peers and attending events, you learn from others in the industry and get additional experience.

For more information, email Kathleen Relias.


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